The opportunities were there, but Indiana simply could not take advantage.
Indiana fell to Cincinnati 5-0 Tuesday night at Bart Kaufman Field, as the Hoosier offense was shut out for the first time all season.
"One, I tip my hat to Cincinnati," IU coach Chris Lemonis said. "They just came in here and outplayed us again, so I tip my hat to their staff and coaches and everything else. Uninspired. Just uninspired. I don’t know if it’s too many games in too many days, or what it is, but offensively our consistency and leadership is just poor at times."
Sophomore left-handed pitcher A.J. Olasz (1-2) earned the win for Cincinnati (12-12), pitching five shutout innings. With Olasz on the mound, Indiana (12-11) had runners in scoring position just twice.
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From the third through fifth inning, Olasz retired eight straight Indiana batters.
Freshman right-handed pitcher Paul Milto (1-1) got saddled with a loss in his first career start on the mound for the Hoosiers, striking out six while allowing four hits, two runs and one walk. The Greenwood, Ind. native was relieved by Vanderbilt transfer and junior right-hander Luke Stephenson in the top of the fifth inning. However, Stephenson would quickly be chased out and replaced after giving up a run.
IU sophomore outfielder Laren Eustace provided the most offense a player possibly could in a shutout, recording a single and a double. He also earned a hit-by-pitch and reached first on an error. He would reach base four times overall.
Eustace, who led off for the Hoosiers, and junior outfielder Craig Dedelow hit a combined 3 of 7 from the plate. However, the Hoosiers got hardly any production beyond that, as batters in the 3, 4 and 5 spots finished a combined 0 for 7. IU finished with six hits total.
"We had three or four opportunities early to score a run with a runner on second and no outs, first and third a couple times with one out (and) we just don’t even come close to (scoring) with the right people at the plate," Lemonis said. "That’s the hard part of just being able to get a run or two."
Eustace attributed the abysmal offensive production to a lack of focus, much like Lemonis' "uninspired" comment describing the team's effort Tuesday night.
"Yeah, it's frustrating," Eustace said when asked about being shut out for the first time all season. "It seems like we had runners on base almost every inning and couldn't get anything across. A lot of it was focus. I made a couple mistakes on the base paths. Like the first inning, I got thrown out. It's just that we have to be focused every single day. That just comes from us, once again."
With the lack of offensive production from key batters in the lineup, junior right-handed pitcher Kent Williams received little support both offensively and defensively. Williams allowed four hits and two earned runs in a career-high three innings pitched, but did start out strong with three strikeouts through his first two innings of work.
The Hoosiers would use five pitchers overall and were plagued by three errors, including two in the first three innings.
"That's on us, the position players," Eustace said. "The pitchers, they've been doing good all year round. They have like a top, what, 15 ERA in the nation. We're 12-11 right now, we should take more pride as an offense to get things going and bring energy every single day."
Now, Indiana begins a stretch of four games and five days, with a chance to respond at home against Evansville on Wednesday night.
"Baseball, you play so many games, you just can't dwell on it at all," Eustace said. "We've just got to bounce back (Wednesday). The good teams bounce back, and we have another chance at it tomorrow. That's the good thing about baseball."